Virus In the air

How HVAC Systems Help Prevent the Spread of Indoor Viruses

It’s no secret at this point: the entire world has been greatly impacted by the spread of COVID-19, an airborne coronavirus that can be extremely dangerous to those with pre-existing health problems. This has a lot of people worried: because the virus is transmitted with airborne particles, including those released by coughing, sneezing, or even heavy breathing, how can you be certain that the air you’re breathing is safe? While public places have taken steps to prevent the spread, including requiring masks and instituting stricter cleaning, individual homes have no such mandates. How can you help prevent the spread of viruses and illnesses, like COVID-19, while in your own home?

The answer may be something that’s been right in front of you this whole time: your HVAC system. Your heating and cooling equipment are responsible for cycling the air in your home, filtering out debris, and heating or cooling it so it sits at an ideal and comfortable temperature. The large capacity means your HVAC system is actually an ideal way of containing viruses and keeping your indoor air clean, and that’s great news for anyone who is at particular risk due to health conditions.

How HVAC Cleans Your Air

How does an HVAC system help you clean the air in your home? The obvious answer is your air filter. The air filter in your system removes airborne particles like dust, pollen, dander, and even smaller bits like smoke particles or mold spores. All of this is caught by the filtration media in your air filter, removing it from your air before the air is conditioned and pumped throughout your home.

However, the overwhelming majority of air filters can’t strain out things as small as virus particles. While they may be able to remove things as thin as a human hair, a human hair is actually many, many times larger than a virus cell. Thus, the virus actually passes through most of these air filters without issue. Certain air filters, such as HEPA filter systems, are better at handling germs and viruses, but these systems are pricey and few homes are equipped with them.

Instead, those who are looking for disinfecting power will likely need to count on supplemental HVAC equipment to improve their indoor air quality. Ionizing filtration systems and UV scrubber lights are two of the most popular upgrades to HVAC systems that can and do actually have an impact on virus particle levels in the air.

Ionizing Filtration Systems

Ionizing filters use the power of physics to clean the air in your home. These systems consist of two primary parts: an ionizing grid and a charged filter. Air is first pulled through the ionizing grid, a component creates a static energy field that blasts any debris floating through it with electrons. The extra electrons give these particles a negative charge. A little further away, the air is then forced through a positively-charged filter. These opposite charges the debris to the filter, causing it to stick in place and hold tight. The air, now completely clean and free of debris, continues through unaffected.

These systems can work in conjunction with existing HVAC filters, but many people choose to install them in place of their HVAC filter system. Much like normal air filters, the filtration media does fill up with debris and does need to be replaced. These often require special filters, so the cost to replace can be a little higher. However, these systems are incredibly effective at removing virtually all types of airborne contaminants, including those as small as virus particles.

UV Air Scrubbers

UV air scrubbers, such as the Aerus Air Scrubber, work on a different principle. Rather than filtering out debris from the air, UV air scrubbers simply neutralize microscopic bio-contaminants like mold, viruses, bacteria, pollen, and more. UV light is a particularly harsh wavelength of light that can kill or permanently damage cellular-sized organisms. In fact, UV light is the same type of light that can cause sunburns on our skin. A UV air scrubber is essentially a small lamp that emits this light inside your HVAC system’s main ductwork. The air that passes by the light is pelted with the radiation, and any bio-contaminants are either killed or otherwise neutralized. This prevents them from reproducing, causing them to die off extremely quickly, thus rendering them completely harmless to you. Click here for more information on our Aerus Air Scrubber with ActivePure® technology.

Are UV air scrubbers safe? Absolutely. Unlike natural sunlight that causes sunburns, UV air scrubbers are significantly weaker. This lower power makes the light they emit completely harmless for human beings. Likewise, the type of UV light they emit is also carefully controlled. Not all UV light causes sunburns or other harmful effects, and UV air scrubbers don’t emit these types of UV light. Instead, they focus purely on the types that are safe to use, but are still effective at neutralizing indoor viruses. However, these lights are also not completely effective at removing all types of viruses, so we recommend talking to a professional about your air quality goals before making your decision.

Learn more about indoor air quality solutions and how you can keep your home safer and cleaner by calling Blazer Heating and Air at (804) 277-2458 today!

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